Wednesday, September 5, 2012

First Day: Part Two. And The Break-through.

For whatever reason I had been putting off this post. I couldn't give a specific reason as to why because I knew that I wanted to write down my thoughts and feelings about my first REAL day of school. ("Real" being I had my Grade Ones and Grade Twos as I typically will.) But I couldn't do it. For the past two days I have been telling myself to write about everything so that I could see how far I have come. So that one day when I've had lots and lots of teaching experience, I can go back to this and remember what these past few days have been like.

But I just couldn't do it.

Until today.

My Grade Twos have settled into the routines and are doing absolutely wonderful. We've started building relationships with each other and are getting into the groove of being in school. That isn't to say that we don't have our struggles, but we're doing so much better than "just surviving".

Grade Ones are TOUGH. They're sweet children with very vibrant personalities, but they are energetic. Super, super energetic. 25 of them. One of me. You do the math.

I left my classroom on Monday and Tuesday very, very over-whelmed. I felt as if I had stepped into this classroom blind. An observer would think that I had no training in teaching. These kids were wild and I had no idea what to do. I had to shut the door behind me, take a deep breath, and know that tomorrow was a new day to try again.

Let me paint the picture though. As soon as I got here, people looked at me with that look of pity when I said that I was teaching Grade One. My princial and assistant principal and partner teacher all looked at me like they felt sorry for me on Monday and Tuesday. My students were standing on desks, screaming at each other, refusing to work, stabbing each other with pencils (more on that later). It was TOUGH. Not just general talking while I was teaching, but I couldn't even get their attention to try to talk to them. Turning the lights off? Nope. Clapping? Nada. Having them repeat my actions? Nah. Talking quiet? Not a chance. Trying to talk loud? Not over 25 students. I had no idea what to do. No. Idea.

All I could do was take a deep breath, say a lot of prayers, and prepare for another day. More than once did I allow the chaos to get crazier before trying to settle it down because I knew there was no fighting against these strong-willed children.

And then today happened. The students came in, sat down, paid attention. They were NOT the same students who had been in my classroom earlier this week. And they stayed like that for the entire afternoon. WHAT?! Who were these children?! I was so proud of them, I gave them so many hugs and rewards today because they were so well-behaved. The only issues we had were general Grade One problems. Nothing like we dealt with the past two days.

Today was fantastic. It was exactly what I needed. It showed me that not evey day will be perfect, but there are ways to reach these kids. The potential is there. And honestly, these kids have so much working against them, it's no wonder the first couple of days were hard. It was their first time staying at school past noon, it was their first time with an English teacher since May, it was the afternoon, it's been hot, my room was arranged in a horrible way. I can't listen to Spanish for very long without getting distracted, so I completely understand how the kids felt. I couldn't be upset with them, I just had to keep pushing through.

And today was so, so worth it. We ran around outside. I taught them the appropriate time to say "Stick 'em up!" and how to flaunt their new style of their pants rolled up into short shorts. We laughed. We had fun. I taught, they learned. And I learned from them.

I'm not assuming that everyday is going to be like today. But it gives me hope that there will be good days ahead. I butted heads with my kids in Brazil for the first four-ish weeks until we were comfortable with each other and then we loved each other. I can see this going much the same way.

My principal and assistant principal are great. So great. I am so blessed to work with such wonderful people. Both of them have offered to help me wherever are need it and are frequently hanging out in/ around my classroom. They always check in on my during recesses and at the end of the day. I couldn't ask for better people to be working with and to have supporting me.

Speaking of my assistant principal. Yesterday, in a particularly rough time, my students were taking their pencils and pencil sharpeners and then stabbing each other with them. I took a pencil from a kid, stepped outside just as my assistant principal walked past. The conversation went as follows. "Umm, Profe Maria Mercedes? Necesito ayuda, por favor. Umm, los alumnos sacan sus lapices y umm sus sacapuntas. Y umm *sharpening motion* y entonces *stabing motion*" Yeah. We're working on the expansion of my Spanish vocabulary, I was never excellent at Charades.


  1. I don't know how to respond to this, but I really appreciate your raw honesty in this. I love that you aren't looking at the challenges as impossible, but with hopeful expectation! I'm so excited to follow you.

  2. Oh the life lessons you are learning! =) Keep the Faith! You are doing fine...and yes, you will look back on this someday with a big smile as you remember this while helping a new teacher!
    Love you,Dad

  3. So proud of you and all that you have overcome thus far. Moving to a complete other country directly out of college is tough. Also teaching in another language to a bunch of children with little attention span? Sounds impossible. But if it's anyone that can take this task on, it's you. Things might get bumpy down the line once and awhile, but I know you have the courage and determination to keep going forward. Those kids are lucky to have a teacher with such a big heart.

    So proud to be your little,
    We Live For Each Other <3